2024 Democracy Award—Tibet Action Institute

The Tibet Action Institute (TAI) was formed in 2009 to support a new chapter in the Tibetan resistance movement after the 2008 Beijing Olympics. TAI provides training on strategic nonviolent action, drawn from other successful human rights and democracy movements around the globe, and promotes effective use of new information and communication technologies to help Tibetans in and outside Tibet. TAI is being honored in 2024 for their work documenting the approximately one million Tibetan children forced into colonial boarding schools designed to eliminate the Tibetan language, culture, and religion. TAI’s advocacy efforts, including dozens of international briefings, testimonies, statements, and articles to raise awareness, resulted in actions by the United Nations which compel governments to act.


Lhadon Tethong, Co-Founder and Director, Tibet Action Institute

Lhadon Tethong is the co-founder and director of Tibet Action Institute where she leads a team developing strategies and innovative training, education, and technology programs for Tibetans and others living under extreme repression. She currently serves as the co-chair of the International Tibet Network and as a board member for United for Iran. Tethong received the first annual James Lawson Award for Nonviolent Achievement by the International Center on Nonviolent Conflict in 2011, the Democracy Award from the National Endowment for Democracy on behalf of Tibet Action Institute in 2018, and the U.S. Secretary of State’s International Religious Freedom Award in January 2024.


Dr. Gyal Lo, Tibet Expert, Tibet Action Institute

Dr. Gyal Lo is a Tibetan activist, educational sociologist, and a leading expert on China’s assimilation and education policies in Tibet. He is an eyewitness to the colonial boarding school system in Tibet and works as a Tibet Specialist at Tibet Action Institute. Born in Tibet, Dr. Lo obtained his master’s degree from and served as a professor at Northwestern University for Nationalities in Lanzhou, China. He received his PhD from the University of Toronto and then returned to China where he obtained a professorship at Yunnan Normal University. He is the author of Social Structuration in Tibetan Society: Education, Society, and Spirituality, published in 2016 by Lexington Books, and of a forthcoming book on the life of the 6th Gung Thang Rinpoche.